26.2 in Des Moines

The marathon is more than just a run. It is a challenge: a test of endurance, physically, but far more important and vital, mentally. It is 26.2 grueling miles of pavement between the start and the finish, and as one person’s sign so aptly read, “The person who starts the race is not the same who finishes it.” I’m not sure exactly what percentage of people actually finish a marathon, but I’m sure many do not.

When I lined up for the 8am start, I was surrounded by crowds of people. It was a brisk 40 or so degrees out, but many runners sported shorts and short sleeves. As the race began, I was astonished at how many spectators had come to support us. Now I know the marathon is not the most exciting contest to watch; there is no contact, no crashes, no fast movements, and it takes hours to complete. That didn’t stop thousands from lining the road, forming a human tunnel of sorts at the start, screaming and shouting their support. It was hard to hold back and stay with the pace guide I had chosen- in fact, I quickly found myself at the 3 hour 10 minute pace guide (my goal was 3 hours and 30 minutes). The course was beautiful and led all over the city. We ran by the stunning golden dome of the capitol building, did a lap around the drake stadium, and ran through some wonderful neighborhoods. People were everywhere, shouting encouragement, handing out water and gummies, and holding signs for support and amusement: “You’re running better than the government” read one of my favorites. Or, “Smile. You’re still faster than everyone behind you.” Around halfway my foot started throbbing. I have been battling plantar fasciatis the past two weeks and was nervous about this before the race. I continued running and eventually the pain subsided or my mind numbed it out. Either way, I plodded forward. Around mile 20 I started to really slow down. I began to take mini walk breaks every mile or so, intermingled with spurts of my original pace. At mile 25, I really gave her hell. I must’ve passed 20 people that last mile- I just wanted it to be over. As I crossed the finish line and was handed my medal, I all but collapsed with emotion. This was something I had really been working for, another goal to check off the bucket list.

Nearly 8 months of training, 2 months of no soda, and 42 days of sobriety had led to this moment. I was a marathoner. I gobbled down some pizza, snacks, and a complimentary beer, before limping back to my car. I think it’s gonna take days to recover! My first marathon was a success, as well as a great experience. I can’t say I won’t ever do another one! Just not anytime soon!

Marathon time: 3 hours, 24 minutes

Written by Jake G

I'm a 26 year old who loves to hike, bike, backpack, and explore the outdoors. I'm a Midwesterner who currently resides in sunny Arizona. I hope to inspire others with my adventures and maybe give some advice for your future vacations. Follow me as I travel around the country and...
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